Psalms 124

PSALM CXXIV

A thanksgiving of the godly for extraordinary deliverances, 1-4.

The great danger they were in, 7.

Their confidence in God, 8.

NOTES ON PSALM CXXIV

In our present Hebrew copies this Psalm is attributed to David,

ledavid; but this inscription is wanting in three of

Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS., as also in the Septuagint,

Syriac, Vulgate, AEthiopic, and Arabic; and in most of the ancient

fathers, Greek and Latin, who found no other inscription in their

copies of the text than A Psalm of degrees. It was composed long

after David's days; and appears to be either a thanksgiving for

their deliverance from the Babylonish captivity, or for a

remarkable deliverance from some potent and insidious enemy after

their return to Judea. Or, what appears to be more likely, it is a

thanksgiving of the Jews for their escape from the general

massacre intended by Haman, prime minister of Ahasuerus, king of

Persia. See the whole Book of Esther.

Verse 1. If it had not been the Lord] If God had not, in a very

especial manner, supported and defended us, we had all been

swallowed up alive, and destroyed by a sudden destruction, so that

not one would have been left. This might refer to the plot against

the whole nation of the Jews by Haman, in the days of Mordecai and

Esther; when by his treacherous schemes the Jews, wheresoever

dispersed in the provinces of Babylon, were all to have been put

to death in one day. This may here be represented under the figure

of an earthquake, when a chasm is formed, and a whole city and its

inhabitants are in a moment swallowed up alive.

Verse 5. Then the proud waters] The proud Haman had nearly

brought the flood of desolation over our lives.

Verse 7. Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare] This is

a fine image; and at once shows the weakness of the Jews, and the

cunning of their adversaries. Haman had laid the snare

completely for them; humanly speaking there was no prospect of

their escape: but the Lord was on their side; and the providence

that induced Ahasuerus to call for the book of the records of the

kingdom to be read to him, as well indeed as the once very

improbable advancement of Esther to the throne of Persia, was the

means used by the Lord for the preservation of the whole Jewish

people from extermination. God thus broke the snare, and the bird

escaped; while the poacher was caught in his own trap, and

executed. See the Book of Esther, which is probably the best

comment on this Psalm.

Verse 8. Our help is in the name of the Lord]

beshum meywra depai, Chaldee, "In the name of the WORD of the

LORD." So in the second verse, "Unless the WORD of the LORD had

been our Helper:" the substantial WORD; not a word spoken, or a

prophecy delivered, but the person who was afterwards termed ο

λογοςτουθεου, the WORD OF GOD. This deliverance of the Jews

appears to me the most natural interpretation of this Psalm: and

probably Mordecai was the author.

ANALYSIS OF THE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-FOURTH PSALM

The people of God, newly escaped from some great danger,

acknowledge it, and celebrate God as their Deliverer.

I. The psalmist begins abruptly, as is usual in pathetical

expressions.

1. "If it had not been the Lord:" and so deeply was he affected

with a sense of God's goodness, and the narrowness of the escape,

that he repeats it: "Unless the Lord," &c. Nothing else could have

saved us.

2. "Now may Israel say;" the whole body of the Jewish people may

well acknowledge this.

3. "When men rose up:" when they were all leagued against us as

one man to destroy us; and, humanly speaking, our escape was

impossible.

II. This danger and escape the psalmist illustrates by two

metaphors:-

1. The first is taken from beasts of prey: "They had swallowed

us up quick." They would have rushed upon us, torn us in pieces,

and swallowed us down, while life was quivering in our limbs.

This they would have done in their fury. The plot was laid with

great circumspection and caution; but it would have been executed

with a resistless fury.

2. The second similitude is taken from waters which had broken

through dikes, and at once submerged the whole country: "The

stream had gone over our soul;" the proud waters, resistless now

the dikes were broken, would have gone over our soul-destroyed our

life.

III. He next acknowledges the deliverance.

1. "We are not given a prey to their teeth."

2. It is the blessed God who has preserved us: "Blessed be God,"

&c.

As this deliverance was beyond expectation, he illustrates it by

another metaphor, a bird taken in, but escaping from, a snare.

1. We were in "the snare of the fowler."

2. But "our soul is escaped."

3. And the fowler disappointed of his prey. The disappointment

of Haman was, in all its circumstances, one of the most mortifying

that ever occurred to man.

IV. He concludes with a grateful acclamation. 1. "Our help is in

the name of the Lord." In open assaults, and in insidious attacks,

we have no helper but God; and from him our deliverance must come.

2. This help is sufficient; for he made the heaven and earth;

has both under his government; and can employ both in the support,

or for the deliverance, of his followers.

Or, take the following as a plainer analysis:-

I. 1. The subtlety of the adversaries of the Church in laying

snares to entrap it, as fowlers do birds, Ps 124:7.

2. Their cruelty in seeking to tear it to pieces, as some

ravenous beasts of prey do; or, as mighty inundations that

overthrow all in their way, Ps 124:3-6.

II. The cause of this subtlety and cruelty: wrath and

displeasure, Ps 124:3.

III. The delivery of the Church from both, by the power and

goodness of God, Ps 124:1, 2, 6, 7.

IV. The duty performed for this deliverance; praises to God,

Ps 124:6.

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